LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP, PENNSYLVANIA — An unfortunate story this week out of Pennsylvania proves that not all threats come in the form of street thugs and home invaders.
When an “at large” pit bull attacked a man and the bystanders who attempted to help him, a neighbor stepped up to protect those under attack and fatally shot the vicious dog.
Like most states, Pennsylvania allows the use of a firearm in defense of others to protect them in any situation which would allow the victim to use a firearm in their own defense.
As of the writing of this article, Pennsylvania law reads:
“The use of force upon or toward the person of another is justifiable to protect a third person when: (1) the actor would be justified … in using such force to protect himself against the injury he believes to be threatened to the person whom he seeks to protect; (2) under the circumstances as the actor believes them to be, the person whom he seeks to protect would be justified in using such protective force; and (3) the actor believes that his intervention is necessary for the protection of such other person.”
Though the law specifically addresses threats from other persons and not really applicable to the use of firearms against animals, sensible states with similar laws allow the use of a firearm to protect third parties when they are in danger of serious injury or death.
Not all states, however, honor the “defense of others” concept as broadly as Pennsylvania. Some require that the protector have a “special relationship” with the victim in order to legally protect him or her with a firearm.
As with all issues concerning the carrying of a firearm, it’s vitally important that you know the law. Visit your state’s legislature or Attorney General’s website to find out how it applies to you. And if you don’t understand what you read, be sure to contact an attorney.